Gardeners in the south-east are fearing a destruction of box hedges due to a large number of box tree moths.
The moth is native to East Asia and they arrived in the UK due to undetected eggs on imported plants and were first discovered in 2011. It appears that they have taken to gardens in large numbers this year, with many people finding their hedges being eaten within.
The Box tree caterpillar now tops the Royal Horticultural Society pests list. The caterpillar reaches around 4cm long, they spin webs around leaves and twigs to conceal and protect themselves.
Once they have attacked a box hedge, it would appear unlikely that it can be saved. The advice is not to use pesticides or insecticides, as the chemicals will harm and kill all insects using the bush and in the area. As the Box mother caterpillar has 2-3 life cycles each year that last around 45 days, it is a battle that you are unlikely to win.
The best advice to deal with the problem is to try and remove the caterpillars by hand. Pheromone traps can help monitor, catch & dispose of adult moths Gardeners are advised to consider choosing alternatives to box plants.
These moths are here to stay, so even if your box hedge survives this year, there is no guarantee that you will be so lucky next time.